Our community and our world are full of good things which you can do.
Isn't it great when doing good things turns out to be fun, entertaining and delicious, as well?
On April 26, beginning at 5:30 p.m., our local Audubon Center and Sanctuary invites you to spend an evening of wonderful food and good entertainment at Roberto's Restaurant, at the Ironstone, at 516 West Fourth St., in downtown Jamestown.
In addition to fun and food, you get a chance to bid, in a combination of regular and silent auctions, on a large list of works of art, plus items of what seems like every kind under the sun.
Let me give you the details of the dinner, and then I'll tell you more about the Audubon Society.
SPRING FEVER GALA
It's usually wise to start with the facts.
I've already given the date, address and time. Let's look at buffet-style dinner which will be served:
I spoke with Kathleen Johnson, who is in charge of the food. ''The restaurant will be closed to all other parties, on April 26, so diners will have the place to ourselves,'' she told me.
''The doors will open at 5:30 p.m. That will be an opportunity to look over the items and experiences which are available for the silent auction,'' she said. ''Wine is included in the price of the dinner, but there will be a cash bar, for those who want something to drink other than wine.''
Ms. Johnson promises mouth-watering hors d'oeuvres while you're greeting your fellow diners and looking over the tempting items in the silent auction.
From 6 to 7 p.m. the main event of the evening's gustatory pleasures will take place. There will be a splendid buffet dinner prepared by the restaurant's chef.
''Expect to see roast duck as the main course, surrounded by rice pilaf, assorted vegetables, various pastas, green salad and bread,'' the food chairman reported.
Serving the wine which accompanies the dinner will be some very special waiters. Members of the Chautauqua Chamber Singers will be pouring the wine, while occasionally crooning for your entertainment.
''For dessert, we're planning to offer petit fours, those too-delicious little elaborate cakes,'' she ended. ''I think that there will be plenty to delight appetites of all types and sizes.''
We'll get to the auction in a moment. First, let me tell you that the tariff for all of this is $45 per person, although you can get a $5 discount if you pay by April 10.
Couples pay $85 for admission, with the same early-purchase discount.
Tables for six can be purchased for $240, with a $10 discount by the early purchase date.
Those who value the fine work of the Audubon Center are welcome to make donations of any amount, with special recognition at the $75 patron level, the $125 supporter level, and the $250 sponsor level.
Individuals or businesses which make these additional contributions will be recognized in the evening's printed program, which lets the entire community know that you're a supporter of culture, the arts, and the preservation of nature, and those are very good things for which to be known. Reservations must be made by April 19 so that reasonable planning may take place, so you still have some time to plan, but some advance thinking will be necessary.
Because we have to meet an early deadline, items and services are still pouring in to be auctioned at the gala. I met with the Audubon Center's president, Ruth Lundin, and she gave me an overview of the many things which have been donated at the time of this writing.
''Last summer, we sponsored an 'Art in the Woods' event,'' she told me. ''We asked the artists who showed their artwork at last summer's events if they would donate one example of their work for us to use as a fundraiser. So far, we have 45 original art works, including photographs, paintings, drawings, sculptures, collages, and other kinds of art, nearly all of which are focused upon nature.
''We understand, though, that not everyone wants to buy art and many people already have filled their homes with art and cannot add something without replacing something they already have,'' she continued.
Other items which will be sold range from nights or weekends at various bed and breakfast homes, a hunting trip with a skilled guide, and a professional chef who will come to your home and prepare a gourmet meal for a party of your friends. Among the night or weekend possibilities is a stay at the beautiful ''The Oaks,'' on West Second Street and at the Sheldon House, the mansion on the north side of town which belongs to Jamestown Community College.
''A woman in the area who is famous for gourmet pizzas will agree to prepare one of her masterpieces per month for a year, if you're the lucky bidder,'' Lundin offered. ''A local pilot who owns his own plane will take the high bidder on a flight to view our region at the height of the autumn leaf color.''
Other items available for purchase will include season gate passes to Chautauqua Institution, a beautifully-crafted writing desk, a spectacular rug and a window-sized stained glass panel which can be installed in your home, not just displayed on a table top.
Various baskets will be offered, including one which contains a variety of bottled spirits, and another which includes massage, Tai Chi, and various things and events oriented toward good health.
''There are smaller items, as well,'' the president continued. ''For example, a lighting store has donated a nightlight in the shape of a turtle, which is sure to be a hit with a child or a grandchild.''
The auctioneer for the live part of the auction will be Dave Johnson, who is famed not only for skill as an auctioneer, but for making it funny and entertaining while he's at it. And, his lovely wife plays ''Vanna,'' showing off all the wonderful things he's about to sell.
The items to be auctioned are expected to be up on the Audubon Center's web site by the time you're reading this. Check it all out at www.jamestownaudubon.org. Obviously, the restaurant is only so big, so seating at the gala is limited.
You may already have received a printed invitation in the mail. If so, fill in the RSVP card and return it to Audubon Center & Sanctuary, 1600 Riverside Road, Jamestown, NY, 14701.
If you haven't received an invitation and you want to attend, please phone the center at 569-2345 and they'll be glad to take your reservations.
It sounds to me as though you get a lovely meal, a variety of entertainments, a chance to bid of some wonderful things and opportunities, and a chance to spend the evening with some of our area's most interesting people. An event such as that is a work of art, in itself.
''On top of everything else,'' Lundin told me, ''Everyone will leave at the end of the evening with a gift. We promise, they'll be going out with a bang.'' Now, there's something to think about.
JOHN JAMES AUDUBON
Naturally, all of these wonderful opportunities are designed to help out a very good cause. Here's a bit of history about the man named Audubon:
The Audubon Center takes its name from a man named Jean-Jacques Fougere Audubon. He was a French citizen, born in the French colony of Santa Domingue, which is today called Haiti, just a few years after the signing of the U.S. Constitution.
Audubon's father was an officer in the French navy, who had fought in the American Revolution on behalf of our country's independence from England, and had been captured and imprisoned by the British during the war.
At age three, Audubon emigrated from Haiti to France. However, 16 years later, when Napoleon Bonaparte made himself Emperor of France and set off to conquer the world, the 19-year-old Audubon moved to the United States, settling first in New York City, then moving to a farm near Philadelphia, which his father bought with the money gained by selling his sugar plantations in Haiti.
The new citizen learned to speak English at a Quaker school, at which he learned antique forms of English, such as using ''thee,'' and ''thou,'' instead of ''you,'' which he did on occasion, for the rest of his life. He Anglicized his name to John James Audubon, and began to extensively study nature and animal life, with a particular interest in birds.
The future naturalist met Lucy Bakewell, the daughter of his nearest neighbor in Pennsylvania, and desired to marry her, but if he did so without his father's permission, he risked being disinherited from his father's wealth.
Two years after leaving France, he returned, to get that permission, and to discuss his role in the family business. While he was in France, he met a famous naturalist and physician named Charles-Marie D'Orbigny, who taught him taxidermy and encouraged him to develop more scientific methods of research.
Returning to the U.S., Audubon sold most of his family's farm and used the money to open a store in Kentucky, which was just beginning to be settled by Europeans. Officially a shopkeeper, though, he spent much of his time collecting feathers, birds' nests, and other elements of his beloved nature study, and making elaborate collections of paintings and drawings of elements of nature, especially birds.
Life was hard for the young family in this period. On at least one occasion, he found that vermin had destroyed every nature painting he had made, though he stubbornly started over and built an even larger collection. His store and a connected import-export business declared bankruptcy in 1819. For a while, he earned his living drawing portraits of people on their death beds, as momentos for their descendants. There were periods in which the young family had nothing whatsoever to eat, beyond what he could catch by hunting and fishing.
Facing poverty, his wife advertised her talents as a teacher and eventually won a position in Louisiana, which included room and board for her and the family's children, which meant that they had to live separately for a while.
Audubon eventually moved to England, where he won support from wealthy Englishmen who were interested in his paintings and drawings of animal and bird life from America, which were largely unfamiliar to them. Among his supporters was King George IV.
Eventually, he was able to arrange for the publication of his best-known book, ''Birds of America.'' Sadly, because he insisted on the highest quality of printing and coloring, while the book earned more than $2 million in contemporary dollars, he spent nearly all of it on printing expenses.
After his death, his widow would sell many of his original copper plates to be melted down for scrap metal, to support herself and her children.
During his English days, his publisher suggested that if he would pose for a portrait, wearing frontier clothes, it would be a useful tool in attracting buyers and audiences for his lectures and demonstrations. The resulting painting, by John Syme, became well known, and today hangs in the White House.
Eventually, Audubon published two more books, from which he earned enough to buy a small farm near the Hudson River and to reunite with his wife and the two survivors of their four children. Unfortunately, he died soon after, at the age of 65.
Audubon's work has survived his death. He was quoted three times by name in Charles Darwin's ''Origins of the Species.'' His surviving paintings and drawings are found in some of the world's finest museums, and both the U.S. and Europe are dotted with parks, museums, wildlife refuges, streets, bridges, and other public works which are named for him.
He is considered a major contributor to the understanding of wildlife and anatomy, especially of birds.